A Final Thought
Phoneboy, the indie-rock trio of Wyn Barnum ’21 (vocals, guitar), Ricky Dana ’21 (vocals, guitar) and James Fusco (bass guitar), got their start at Stevens — jamming in Castle Point Hall, playing fraternity parties and other events on campus (they opened for Jesse McCartney at Techfest 2019!). Now, two years after graduation, the band reaches hundreds of thousands of listeners on major streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music. In advance of their sophomore album, Moving Out, released in March 2023, The Indicator spoke with the band about their rising success, life on tour — and the best backstage perks.
What does Phoneboy sound like?
Wyn: We play fast indie-rock.
Ricky: Blink-182 and The Strokes are big influences.
What’s a Phoneboy?
Ricky: We used to practice in Wyn’s dorm room. Sometimes I would be in the corner, just zoning out on my phone. One day, Wyn got really annoyed and said, “Get off your phone, you … Phoneboy!” We started using it as our own kind of slang … when we needed a name for the band, we thought, “Why not Phoneboy?”
What has been your most meaningful experience in the band so far?
Ricky: We toured the U.S. last year [opening for another band] and got to play a sold-out show at Webster Hall in New York. There were more than a thousand people there, but every time I looked out into the crowd, I saw someone I knew — a lot of kids from Stevens for sure. It was probably the best show we’ve ever played.
James: Going [on tour] to states and cities I’ve never been to before and having people sing along to the songs that we wrote — that was really cool, and still hard to wrap my head around.
Wyn: Getting our record deal with AWAL [in August 2022] was pretty awesome. When we were signing the contract at the studio, my hands were shaking!
James: I still have the pen.
What did it feel like to sign with a record label?
Ricky: I remember our manager telling us about the offer and I was blown away. I was thinking, “There’s no way a company is offering us money.”
Wyn: It was ridiculous!
James: It’s hard to have faith all the time, so to see that someone else [who doesn’t even know you] has faith in your music is really sick.
Did you have a rider (list of backstage demands for each venue) on your latest tour?
Ricky: We didn’t have a rider on the tour, but we did spend hours a day on the road. A question that kept coming up was “What would be on your dream rider?” so we assembled a list.
James: We had a rider, and then our “unreasonable rider” — items that would be harder to acquire. For example, a bandolier of firecrackers, oysters, a flaming bow and arrow and a magician. More reasonable would be fresh socks, assorted nuts …
Ricky: A charcuterie board! But in all likelihood, it would just be a bunch of beers and some fruit.
What’s next for Phoneboy?
Wyn: We were celebrating last night because our new single, “Ferrari,” came out today (January 17, 2023). On March 24, our second album, Moving Out, is coming out.
James: And on that same day, we’re kicking off our first headlining tour, playing a show at House of Independents in Asbury Park, New Jersey.
Ricky: Then we’ll be on the road until May 11 when we wrap up the 29-gig tour at The Bowery Ballroom in New York.
— As told to Erin Lewis
Listen to Phoneboy on your favorite streaming service. Visit the band’s website to see tour dates and more.